Saturday, April 07, 2012

Far-right Italian party leader resigns his party leadership post

Umberto Bossi, leader of the far-right Northern League (Liga Nord) and a former coalition partner in Silvio Berlusconi's government resigned his leadership post due to a corruption scandal, as explained in this Newsy Politics report, Berlusconi's Ally Resigns Amid Corruption Scandal 04/06/2012.

See also Italian Northern League leader Umberto Bossi resigns BBC News 04/05/2012; John Hooper, Umberto Bossi's Northern League at centre of Italian corruption allegations Guardian 04/04/2012. Hooper reports:

Umberto Bossi, leader of Italy's Northern League, is at the eye of a political and judicial storm after claims by prosecutors that taxpayers' money was used to pay for improvements to his house and for travel, dinners and hotel accommodation for his children.

The claims, based on evidence collected through wiretaps, came to light in a judicial warrant issued for the search of the party's headquarters in Milan. The chief prosecutor of Milan, Edmondo Bruti Liberati, said on Tuesday that neither Bossi nor any member of his family had been made a suspect in the inquiry.

But he added that the party's treasurer was a suspect, along with two others, "in connection with money taken away from the Northern League". The party's treasurer, Francesco Belsito, has resigned.
Lisa Jucca's story for Reuters, Bossi: rabble-rousing separatist and Berlusconi ally 04/05/2012, gives more of an idea of the far-right nature of Northern League. The fact that it is regarded as the main opposition party to the current bankers-collection-agency Post Democracy government is a sign of what serious worries are justified about the state of democracy in Italy and several other countries of Europe, like Greece and Hungary. I had thought it was once a general assumption that depressions could be dangerously destabilizing to democratic governments. That fear, maybe even the awareness, seems to be sorely lacking among US and European leaders today. From Jucca's report:

An unorthodox politician fond of littering his speech with expletives, Bossi, 70, ruled the League with an iron fist and put federalism on the Italian political agenda, building on resentment in Italy's wealthy north against the capital, that he dubbed 'Robber Rome'.

His resignation seriously undermines the populist, anti-immigration political movement, the main party opposing Prime Minister Mario Monti in government. ...

Bossi came to the fore in the 1980s by giving a voice to an army of angry tax-payers in Italy's north by attacking misgovernment, and offering them the dream of severing ties with Rome to build a northern republic, which he called by the made-up name 'Padania'.

After scoring his first political success in the general election of 1990, at the peak of yet another corruption wave in Italy, he presented his party as completely detached from the country's old party system.

While other Italian parties held court mainly in Rome's palazzi, Bossi wooed followers through frequent rallies and colorful ceremonies that embraced Celtic mythology. ...

Openly racist and known for his vitriolic attacks on opponents and journalists, he often raised his middle finger in public, calling immigrants 'bingo-bongos' and saying that immigrants trying to reach Italian shores should be shot out of the water. [my emphasis]
An Italian Rush Limbaught sort, in other words, only one holding actual political and governmental offices. Very much in the Mussolini tradition.

Whatever the particulars of the corruption case turn out to be, good riddance to this guy from the political scene.

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